POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2009:
Be True to Your School
Too hip to support your alma mater? Opolis Clothing Co. wants you to think again
Ra Ra Ra. Holland said the high end material Opolis uses for their vintage shirts is a new material. The blended fabric not only has that soft texture of a vintage t-shirt, but the t-shirts feature destroyed edges that give them that worn-in look.
I am by no means a sporty gal. More than just not participating, I have a low tolerance for watching sports too. I was a cheerleader as a high school freshman, and I think I used up all my sports attention and pep for a lifetime in that one semester.
But a few times in the fall, I can be seen attending a football game at my college alma mater. Surrounded by family and sports fans covered in blue and gold, I'm usually sporting black.
Some might say I'm trying to make some kind of fashion statement, but in reality I just have a closet filled will black, not those lovely shades of the Golden Hurricane. I could drop by almost any store right now and just pick up a t-shirt emblazoned with a logo, but I just never got into the typical sports t-shirts.
A harsh generalization, but I find them to be boxy in shape and constructed in a cheap, rough cotton material with the logos ironed on like something you'd find at a t-shirt shop at a Spring Break hotspot, sold 10 for $20.
If you're a hardcore sports fan, the kind just shy of putting on face paint, you probably don't care about the quality of the t-shirt; you just want to proclaim your dedication to the team and to wear something that is comfortable as you throw your hands up in cheer or scream at the ref.
But, if you're a hardcore fan and you do like a little fashion with your enthusiasm, a Tulsa-based company is creating easy-to-wear, fashionable tees that help you look good as you cheer your team on to victory. Opolis Clothing Company provides university t-shirts for those kind of fans.
Opolis Clothing Company is in its second year (the company began in July 2008), and with college starting back up and the football season starting, co-owner Zac Holland said this is the company's busiest time of the season. The fall sports season and the university setting has taken the company where it is today.
Holland and fellow co-owner Pat Waddell go back to middle school and then both attended the University of Oklahoma. Although they didn't leave the school with fashion degrees (Holland has a film studies degree and Waddell engineering), the idea for their current career began after college.
Holland said he's always been into vintage clothing and t-shirts. Looking for vintage Sooner t-shirts to wear to games, he and Waddell came up short when scouring stores, Web sites and thrift stores. Creating their own looks, they found the response was positive, with people wanting to know where they could find those shirts. From there, the two created Opolis Clothing Company.
Two components make Opolis t-shirts stand apart from the traditional university apparel store. As the company's Web site accurately states, Holland and Waddell "knew throwing an old design on a brand new shirt, or putting a brand new design on and old t-shirt just wouldn't cut it."
Instead, the t-shirts pair those two key pieces: vintage-feeling t-shirts printed with vintage graphics. Holland said the high end material Opolis uses for their vintage shirts is a new material in the university shirt field. The blended fabric not only has that soft texture of a vintage t-shirt, but the t-shirts feature destroyed edges that give them that worn-in look.
The second thing that makes the Opolis shirts different than the average university gear is the images. Holland said both he and Waddell liked the vintage mascots, chants, lettering and styles of universities. Getting the styling isn't as hard as it seems. Holland and Waddell take things they like and mold the designs with a university's colors and logo.
OU t-shirts, printed on white and red t-shirts, don't feature the typical insignia, but instead graphics from 1974 and 1985. Pistol Pete is on all the ladies' OSU tees, but the colors aren't the over-the-top orange shades and dark blacks. Instead, the colors are subdued (as those they've been faded from time and wear). Rounding out the Oklahoma team trifecta are the University of Tulsa tees in simple shades of blue, yellow and red with cool, stylish graphics.
Opolis Clothing Company is working to get into College Vault, an institution that's Web site says has "visual iconographic history of American universities." Once they've established a relationship with this company, they'll have access to a wide array of (literally) old school graphics.
Possibly more important than getting into College Vault was getting all the licensing required. To create a brand based on known logos and institutions (like a university) requires licensing, and it's on a school by school basis.
When Opolis Clothing Company began, Holland and Waddell had licensing to Oklahoma's two big teams, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Holland said getting those two licensing was really easy, but to expand their licensing even further they've had to present their product to other universities.
The company has recently received licensing and has clothing featuring the University of Tulsa, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Missouri.
On the horizon are the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and the University of Arkansas. Again, with the Oklahoma schools, the looks are modern and subdued, but still strongly evoke school spirit.
Whatever team you're rooting for and wearing, the line has a great graphic. Both men and women have short-sleeved t-shirt and hoodie options. Opolis Clothing Company even features looks for the future sports fan, with onesies, t-shirts, pants and hoodies for babies and kids. The shirts and onesies are the same graphics as the adult versions, just scaled down to fit a pint size sports nut.
Holland said the reception for the line is already unbelievable. Last football season, Holland said boutiques were selling out hundreds of tees in a single week. And he feels this year's line is 10 times better. Holland said they didn't want Opolis Clothing Company to grow too fast, but the line is already being sold in 12 or 13 boutiques across Oklahoma and four or five in Missouri.
Holland and Waddell are also planning to take the line to market this spring. More than just expanding their look, their teams and the stores that carry their line, Opolis Clothing Company also has future endeavors of creating vintage-inspired looks for the NFL and major league baseball.
If you're a fan of one of the team Opolis Clothing Company creates looks for, you can find the line in Tulsa at Chrome Clothing Company, 1338 E. 15th St. According to Holland, Chrome's owner Kevin Otis "hounded" them until they created the University of Tulsa t-shirts, and now the boutique exclusively carries the TU t-shirts.
The kid's line is available at Utica Square's Lolly Garden, open Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm. Opolis Clothing Company also has an online store, www.opolisclothingcompany.com, where you can find all their team's tees.
With football season starting up and basketball season right around the corner (right? I'm still not savvy on the sports seasons), it's time to become fanatical.
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